One of my favorite TV shows is Chopped. Chopped is a reality based cooking game show where chefs compete for a chance to win $10,000.

During each round of cooking the chefs are given a time limit and a basketful of mystery ingredients. Much of the appeal of the shows comes from presenting chefs with a basket of ingredients that they are unfamiliar with and have never prepared before. At the end of each round the chefs are judged on both the taste and presentation of their dishes. The chef with the most underwhelming dish in each round is “chopped”.

One of the biggest mistakes that a chef can make on the show is related to the basket of ingredients. In the rush to get something on the plate before the time is up many a chef has tossed an ingredient on the plate without transforming it. Not transforming an ingredient is a quick way to be chopped.

As preachers we can struggle with transforming ingredients.

Yearly the local church pastor is faced with the challenge of planning an evangelistic effort. Those who don’t consider themselves to be evangelists might throw up their hands at the thought of preaching an evangelistic series. Though we have experienced the value of the preaching of the distinctiveness of Adventist beliefs in a systematic way but many of us are at loss on how to develop our own system of preaching. In desperation we reach for the pre-packaged evangelistic sermon series. We simply reheat the ingredients someone has already prepared and serve it to the people.

As much as we might try, it is very difficult to make someone else’s message fit our preaching style and personality. The end result can be a valiant effort to be someone that we are not by preaching words that are not ours. When we fail with this method we might believe that our only hope is to find an evangelist to do the job for us. I am convinced that one of the biggest inhibitors of traditional evangelistic preaching for my local church pastors is an inability to develop contemporary evangelistic sermons.

Several years ago I was given an opportunity to preach my first evangelistic series. For two and a half weeks I would be sharing the gospel in a place several hundred miles away from my home. I happily accepted the opportunity. Preaching wasn’t new to me, neither was series preaching but evangelistic preaching was.

Instead of panicking under the pressure I studied the evangelistic series of one of my favorite preachers. Several messages into the series I was hit with a strong temptation. I could just copy this entire series and present it like it was my own. No one would know especially considering the fact that this series was over 5 years old.  I avoided the temptation of serving untransformed messages. Instead, I took the chopped approach. Combining the sermon series with a set of popular evangelistic study guides I developed something new.

Here were my ingredients from my favorite preacher and the Bible study guides:

  • The use of a theme
  • The use of progression –  – sermons should build on each other
  • The use of a story to start the sermon
  • The use of humor to ease the audience before hitting them with heavy point
  • The use of a study guide

Here’s what I brought to the recipe:

  • My own true stories
  • My own theme
  • My own sermon titles
  • My own bible study – I studied each topic for myself
  • My own study guides

No one could accuse me of preaching Walter Pearson sermon or Amazing Facts study guides because I didn’t. Pearson’s sermons and the Amazing Facts study guides were in my basket of ingredients but I didn’t merely pull pieces from them and serve it to the people. I worked to transform their notes into something that was uniquely my own.

We are called to preach the truth in our own unique way. Over the years we haven’t developed any unique evangelistic topics, but our approach and delivery of these familiar topics should be unique. My challenge to you is to go beyond reheating popular sermons. Instead, transform what you’ve been given into messages that people will love to eat.

 

Pierre Quinn
Pierre Quinn

Pierre
Quinn

Pierre Quinn currently serves as the Senior Pastor of the Breath of Life Seventh-day Adventist Church in Fort Washington, Maryland. He recently published his second book Re:Vision: Receiving What Happens Next, A 21-Day Devotional Guide in which readers are challenged to dream, imagine, and plan again like it was the first time. He and his family reside in Laurel, Maryland.

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